Illinois becomes 1st state to abolish cash bail as Pre-Trial Fairness Act takes effect

By Chicago 3 Min Read

CHICAGO (WLS) — The Pre-Trial Fairness Act, part of the SAFE-T Act that eliminates cash bail, goes into effect Monday morning.

Many local elected officials plan to celebrate the elimination of cash bail which takes effect Monday after extensive delays and legal challenges from some prosecutors and law enforcement leaders who sought to keep the existing system in place.

Under the existing system, a judge can set bail as a means of ensuring the defendant will show up for court hearings.

SEE ALSO: DuPage County unveils $20M in courtroom renovations ahead of SAFE-T Act implementation

However, starting Monday, that will no longer be the case.

If a judge decides a defendant does not pose a public safety or flight risk, they will be released without being required to post any money.

People arrested for violent crimes will likely be detained by a judge.

“Ideally, what this will cause is a more careful, a more thorough consideration of the risk posed by defendants of the likelihood the defendant will appear when he or she is supposed to appear,” ABC7 Political Analyst Gil Soffer said.

Advocates for the Pre-Trial Fairness Act said the previous system punished people for being poor and caused tens of thousands of people to lose their jobs, housing and even custody of their children because they couldn’t afford to pay bond.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement, “The full implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act and the end of money bond is a critical milestone on the path toward economic and racial justice in Cook County and Illinois. This important reform is long overdue. Today, we finally end the harmful practice of wealth-based pretrial incarceration and welcome a new system that centers community safety to better guarantee equal justice for all.

“In the last ten years, Cook County has made significant progress in addressing mass incarceration and advancing pretrial fairness. We safely decreased the population of Cook County jail, limited the use of money bonds and increased investments that support residents and communities most impacted by crime, violence and incarceration. The implementation of the Pretrial Fairness Act is the next step on this journey.

“I am immensely proud of the intentional collaboration that has brought us to this day. I stand in solidarity and support of our court system stakeholders and system impacted residents and communities as we implement the new court procedures and move into this new phase of increased pretrial fairness.”

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